This post was written in 2011. Not much has changed, but I’ve updated it slightly for 2017.
For the last few years, I’ve noticed a trend with people giving up social media for Lent, with the argument that we should interact with our family and friends in real life…
Personally, I think that reasoning is ridiculous.
Unless you are going all the way and plan to give up all social interaction, what’s the point of giving up social media?
I can see giving up Farmville (left this one in to date the post), or whatever silly games people are playing these days. However, I could argue that one should give up Facebook games for life, not just during Lent!
If you are intentional in who and what you follow on social media, you could be missing out on some great spiritual growth during the Lenten season.
I can certainly see limiting the time you waste on Facebook or Twitter. However, I could argue that one should use one’s time wisely year round, not just during Lent.
But, I just do not see the benefit, spiritual or otherwise, in not talking to your family and friends for 40 days.
Social media is real life. Virtual reality is still reality.
Just as writing a letter is real life, calling a friend is real life, so too is chatting on Facebook or @’ing on Twitter. The technology is different, but the end is the same, interaction and communication.
I have a lot of real friends on Facebook. I have friends in Italy, Turkey, Israel, Greece, France, and all over the US. I certainly cannot visit them daily to interact. But, I can say hello on Facebook. Of those same friends, it would take hours to call and check in with each one every day to see what’s up. Instead, I can pop in on Facebook, see how everyone is doing, say hello, and get on with my day.
The same goes for Twitter. It would be impossible for me to interact with that many people, that quickly and efficiently in any other way.
Honestly, the technology of Facebook and Twitter give me more time, professionally, personally, and spiritually.
So, this year for Lent, I plan to spend more time connecting with my family and friends on Facebook and Twitter (and now, Instagram and Snapchat).
I’ve had a lot of positive feedback on this post, but, of course it’s the negative that stands out!
So, to clarify, I do not think poorly of anyone who gives up social media for Lent! It’s just not for me. I did it years ago, but social media is a different medium now, for me anyway.
This article (and my criticism) is really directed at those who say social media is not a true interaction with real people. And even to those people I say… Give up whatever you want! I gave up sitting down one year. Now that’s truly ridiculous!